Ocean Liner Society
Home Ship Show Sea Lines Group Cruises Monthly Talks About
     


Ship Visit to Athena
Classic International Cruises
Rosyth - 4th August 2011

Report Ron Catell - Photos ©2011 Matt Sudders


ATHENA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle
ATHENA arriving at Harwich - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle



   

2011 Visit Reports
Revisited ships will not be reported unless significantly revised since our previous visit

Athena

Crystal Serenity

Rotterdam

Saga Ruby

 
ATHENA - Photo: ©2011 Matt Sudders, Rosyth
ATHENA - at Rosyth
Photo: ©2011 Matt Sudders


ATHENA - Photo: ©2011 Matt Sudders, Rosyth
ATHENA - at Rosyth
Photo: ©2011 Matt Sudders


ATHENA - Photo: ©2011 Matt Sudders, Rosyth
ATHENA - Pool
Photo: ©2011 Matt Sudders


ATHENA - Photo: ©2011 Matt Sudders, Rosyth
ATHENA - Sirene's Bar
Photo: ©2011 Matt Sudders


ATHENA - Photo: ©2011 Matt Sudders, Rosyth
ATHENA - Olissipo Restaurant
Photo: ©2011 Matt Sudders


ATHENA - Photo: ©2011 Matt Sudders, Rosyth
ATHENA - Library & Reading Room
Photo: ©2011 Matt Sudders


ATHENA - Photo: ©2011 Matt Sudders, Rosyth
ATHENA - Calypso Show Lounge
Photo: ©2011 Matt Sudders


ATHENA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle, Harwich
ATHENA - at Harwich
Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle



The day was not the least bit welcoming being bleak, misty and rain-soaked, the kind that those who know no better like to call Scottish weather. We all assembled, checked in and were introduced by group leader Matt Sudders, who had travelled all the way from Paris for this event. In turn, we were introduced to George Nakos, UK Sales Director of Classic International Cruises, who made us instantly welcome and taking us on-board to a piano lounge immediately set us all at ease with an introductory talk accompanied with coffees all round. As a former Cruise Director on Athena he certainly knew his ship inside out and was most informative in response to any questions.

Like so many older ships these days Athena proved to be no exception in her names over the years, with a list of a dozen different names reflecting Greek, Italian and German ownership. Originally built in Italy in 1948 as a transatlantic liner, she has the looks of a classic liner in the style and shape of the post WW2 era. She was, of course, originally the infamous Stockholm which collided with the Andrea Doria. She was converted into a cruise ship in 1994, undergoing a major refit/rebuild at that time and since the turn of the century has had another upgrading refit of some $20 million. As a result she has a very comfortable and friendly feeling with plenty of public areas in which smaller groups can come together. In fact, for a smaller ship of just over 16,000 tons, and 500+ passengers one had a surprising feel of constant discovery with ever-increasing vistas and niche rooms. . Most of the public rooms, except the Restaurant, are located on one deck, the Calypso Deck.

The owner of Classic International Cruises (CIC) is George Potamianos, who has both an engineering background and a love of the more traditional ships, and this is strongly reflected in the policies and philosophy of what CIC cruising should mean. Our host took great pains to explain what this meant in what was obviously a very happy ship.

After coffee we were carefully conducted on a tour of the public rooms and, although there were passengers on board, we were able to see examples of the cabins, from the 8 mini-suites complete with balcony to the cabins which varied in size from small to some twins that were large enough not to disgrace some much larger vessels. It was noted also that every cabin (277) was fitted with a bath and shower (a few of the larger ones have whirlpools, but these were not seen). While the majority of cabins were outer (230) the remaining 47 interior cabins were far from cramped and many were as large as already mentioned. Something has to give, however, and the corridors tended to be much narrower than normal and a bit restrictive to movement.

The public rooms are mostly on one deck and easily accessible. There are plenty of smaller areas with , for example, a library, bars, a small casino, games rooms, computer room, and a walk-around deck for the more energetic passengers. There are also some quite surprising larger meeting areas such as a well-seated cinema/lecture theatre and a larger show lounge/dance area with bars . Although there are a few pillars supporting the rather low ceiling the sighting lines are generally adequate, and I have seen worse on a number of ships.

In the stern Athena has been fitted with a sponson deck that was installed to give her improved riding qualities at sea, and the additional space has been well-used to provide poolside and sunning facilities. This, together with the upper sun-deck, gives a feeling of space, albeit limited.

Following our tour we were escorted to a Dining Room, passing through the Restaurant and the Buffet Room en route. There is open-seating service throughout the day in the Buffet areas but for the Restaurant dinner-seating is allocated and has two servings. We were then served with a most enjoyable luncheon together with house wines that were not only very good, but are uniquely selected and bottled for use on Athena by a Portuguese Winery. There was a pleasing selection on the menu and, judging by the quality served to us, future passengers need have no fears over the cuisine. lncidentally, we were received and served by the Maitre d', three waiters and the Chef, who came to check we were satisfied. All received a round of applause.

There is the inevitable beauty salon, a well-equipped but small work-out room, sauna and Turkish baths.

As CIC charters its fleet of ships to different cruise operators, they insist on agreement before the charters begin that ensures the operators do so within a code of practice that respects the cruise philosophy of the owners who set specific standards that have to be met. For entertainment, operators appoint their own Cruise Director for the languages expected and the entertainments team is appointed. As the CIC has now opened a UK office there is likely to be a much greater emphasis on UK-based cruises than in the past.

This was a most informative and enjoyable visit and I am sure I speak for all in the group in wishing to thank both OLS and CIC for the time they devoted to us as well as the friendly welcome that put us all at ease.

Unfortunately, Mr. Nakos had been let down by postal deliveries and he was unable to give us brochures and other information, but arranged to get all our names and addresses from Matt so that he could send them on to each of us.

CIC has a fleet of ships including some already well-known in the UK, such as the Princess Danae, the Arion and the Funchal which is currently undergoing a full refit before returning to the UK market. The ships may be older and smaller, but if they are to the same standards as the Athena they are being well-maintained and offer a different experience from the mega-ships operating elsewhere that many people find too big.


ATHENA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle
ATHENA arriving at Harwich - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle





Home
Ship Show Sea Lines Group Cruises Monthly Talks About